Monthly archives: November 2011

Dispatches from Jersey #1 – James Graham

Eulah House, Jersey - our home from home this week

Eulah House, Jersey - our home from home this week

In the departures lounge at Gatwick, we five writers (me, Matt, Sam, Robin, Stacey) and our directors (George and James) realised we actually knew very little about Jersey, and so we came up with a small list of ‘The Most Important Questions To Ask’ as soon as we arrived and found a proper real life Jersey … person. Jerseyite? Jerseyrian? Anyway (Jersey Boy?), so –

Number 1: has there ever been a fox on Jersey? (My mum the night before told me in all seriousness there’d never, ever been a fox on Jersey, which seemed just ridiculous so I made it my mission, in between writing plays and films, to find one and take a photo).

Number 2: what’s the deal with the cow in the house? (Matt had heard a story about a calf being raised in the attic of a house only for it to grow too big as a cow and they couldn’t get it back down the stairs so it got stuck there and is still there).

Number 3: does anyone pay any tax, honestly, and if not, what the hell’s going on with that?

When we arrived though, we soon forgot about our questions as we got picked up by Tom and our others hosts from the Jersey Arts Trust and taken to our lodgings for the week – the beautiful and huge Eulah House.

It all then got a bit controversial – wrongly, in my view – when we decided to pick rooms at random and I got the Honeymoon Suite; the largest best room in the house. Some insinuated it would be wasted on me. I’m not even sure I know what that means but I don’t like the implication. Anyway, everyone has a gorgeous room, even if they don’t have my four-poster bath (the first four-poster bath any of us had ever seen.)

We met and had dinner that night with our Jersey counterparts – writers Ben, Colin, Martha, Leon and Hannah, who are joining us in the house this week to write and stuff.

So yesterday (Tuesday) was our first full day of doing the thing we’ve been brought here to do, and that’s write. I’ve always been obsessed by how and where and when other writers write. Here’s my observations of today: Robin worked in the big living room with the Christmas tree, which sort of set a precedent and a lot of us writers migrated there throughout the day. Except Sam, who stayed in her room (not as big as mine), and likewise Stacey (likewise, tiny). George faced the view of the sea, I faced away. Martha and Ben took up positions on the sofa. Leon at the table. James has been attacking his inbox today; Matt opted to work for some of the day in the pool house where his room is (not as big as mine).

A handful of us opted for a bracing early morning walk along the promenade, which we may well repeat today. Someone else amongst us, enlisted to do tomorrow’s blog post, will no doubt let you know …

(p.s. the answer to our questions. 1/ no, apparently not, hence all the red squirrels, 2/ this is perhaps a myth 3/ no. No one does. And they’re fine with that).

Come To Where I’m From – Jersey

It's like this in Jersey even in December, apparently

Next week George and I are packing our bags and heading to the beautiful island of Jersey, accompanied by some of the best of British playwrighting talent.

We’ve been invited by The Jersey Arts Trust and we’re taking writers Robin French, James Graham, Stacey Gregg, Matt Hartley and Samantha Holcroft with us for a week-long residency.

The writers will be writing away under their own steam whilst George and I run some workshops for Jersey actors and writers.

Most excitingly, five playwrights from Jersey will be joining us on the residency, which culminates in our final PP show of 2011 – COME TO WHERE I’M FROM at The Jersey Opera House on Saturday 3 December at 8pm.

Ben Evans, Leon Fleming, Martha MacDonald, Hannah Patterson and Colin Scott will perform their work themselves live on stage.

Last year, we commissioned 61 playwrights to write plays about their home towns in everywhere from Bristol to Belfast, Cardiff to Coventry and Nottingham to Newcastle. Many of those plays are available as free-to-listen podcasts on our website.

We’re delighted to be producing COME TO WHERE I’M FROM in St Helier next week, and we’re hoping to podcast the plays too for those who can’t be there in person. Look out for more COME TO WHERE I’M FROM dates in 2012.

It’s incredibly exciting to be extending our relationship with The Jersey Arts Trust and theatre artists on the Island. Last March, Mike Bartlett and I spent a brilliant weekend working with actors and writers in St Helier and were blown away by the depth of talent we encountered.

We’ve created the residency to forge stronger links between the playwriting communities separated by the Channel. We’re inviting Ben, Leon, Martha, Hannah and Colin over to our gaff every evening to sink some wine, and we’re very much looking forward to lots of dicussions and debates and new friendships.

Rather stupidly George and I have offered to cook for all ten playwrights every night. Any good recipes or large numbers very gratefully received. Any any Jersey tourist tips welcome too.

We’ll keep you posted on our progress from Monday.

All three Roundabout shows in a day

We’re shutting up shop at PP HQ today and heading north en masse to Sheffield for the first of our Roundabout Season three-show days.

Our season in Sheffield culminates with Nick Payne’s ONE DAY WHEN WE WERE YOUNG and Duncan Macmillan’s LUNGS re-entering the fray alongside Penelope Skinner’s currently running THE SOUND OF HEAVY RAIN.

You can catch all three shows today and on Saturday at 3pm, 5:30pm and 8pm with enough time in between for a pint and a bite to eat in Crucible Corner.

We’re very excited about seeing our immensely talented acting ensemble pushing themselves to the limit as they play an array of different characters with barely time to draw breath in between. Maia Alexander and Andrew Sheridan star in ONE DAY WHEN WE WERE YOUNG, Alistair Cope and Kate O’Flynn star in LUNGS, and then all four are embroiled in the search for missing Foxie O’Hara in the finale – THE SOUND OF HEAVY RAIN.

We’re delighted to welcome lots of friends of PP to Sheffield today and on Saturday to see the season out with the whole shebang on show inside seven hours.

Bring. It. On.

Penelope Skinner scoops Standard Award

Penelope Skinner. Photo: The Evening Standard

Much cheering at PP HQ at the news that Penelope Skinner scooped the prestigious Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright at yesterday’s awards.

Penelope’s play THE SOUND OF HEAVY RAIN is currently playing as part of our Roundabout Season in Sheffield, and she was formerly part of our Future Perfect playwright’s group.

We loved her play THE VILLAGE BIKE at The Royal Court earlier this year, for which she was honoured.

Huge congratulations to Penelope. We’re dead proud.

You can read more about the awards here.

There’s a feature about Penny and similarly brilliant fellow nominees EV Crowe and Vivienne Franzman here.

Apply for an internship with Paines Plough

We’re looking for an enthusiastic and highly organised intern to offer administrative support across our exciting portfolio of work.

Based in our Central London office, the successful applicant will have the opportunity to gain invaluable experience across all areas of a producing company including casting support, tour planning and marketing as well as performing general office administration tasks.

For an application pack email office@painesplough.com or download one from www.painesplough.com/about-us/get-involved.

Placement start date: Wednesday 4th January 2012
Handover days before Christmas break: 19th + 20th December 2011
Duration of Placement: 12 weeks
Hours: 10am-6pm, Monday-Friday
Application closing Date: Tuesday 6th December 2011 at 5pm
Interview Date: w/c 12th December 2011

The Roundabout Rehearsal Room

Having spent three years at uni in Sheffield, and being born and bred in Manchester, I understand that up North is gets cold. However, this week Sheffield is COLD. Arriving into the train station on Friday evening, it was seriously chilly. So when I came to spend the day in the rehearsal room for The Sound of Heavy Rain, the last play in our Roundabout Season, co produced with Sheffield Theatres, I was glad to be armed with a big, woolly coat.

Now, if you’re anywhere even remotely close to Sheffield at the moment you’ll know that it is ALL going on at the Crucible for their 40th Birthday celebrations. This week the cast of Company moved up to carry on their rehearsals in the steel city, alongside the casts of the first Sheffield People’s Theatre production- Lives In Art, Invisible Flock’s interactive performance Fanfared and Rationale’s In My Shoes. So, with all of this happening, Paines Plough have migrated for a couple of days, across the road to the rather beautiful rehearsal space of Channing Hall.

Andy, James and Maia in rehearsals...apologies for the poor photography!

The room we were rehearsing in was opened in MDCCCLXXXI  (1881- Turns out James is pretty hot on his Roman Numerals…) and is a HUGE room with carved wooden beams, mosaics, chandelier light fittings and plaques galore. It’s a lovely space to rehearse in, but as the weather had taken a turn for the worse and this big old room was unused over the weekend the radiators took a little while to kick in. However, soon enough, everyone had warmed up and were on form for a packed day of rehearsals.

The Sound of Heavy Rain is a pastiche of the usual detective story and is jam packed with chuckle inducing moments meaning that rehearsals were filled with plenty of giggles on and off the stage. Highlights included a discussion on the merits of acting opposite an old school wooden mop rather than your new fangled plastic Vileda, and an impromptu break in rehearsals while Andy (playing P.I Dabrowski) climbed into a wheelie hold-all (one of the props, not just something PP have lying around the rehearsal room) to see if he could fit- (he could, with plenty of room to spare- the bag is THAT big). Another welcome impromptu break came when Maia (playing Maggie Brown) produced Chocolate and Pecan Pie- a seriously delicious dessert giving us all the sugar rush to push through to the end of the day.

Andy, Maia and Channing Hall in all its glory

The show opens next Wednesday (15th) for the Public Dress (tickets are a total bargain at £1 from the Crucible Box Office on the day) and is really coming together now; it was fascinating to see the actors putting the final touches to their characters, whilst Louise (our ASM) was out sourcing props and organising costume fittings before doing a run through in front of the writer, Penny Skinner, later in the week. What made Monday even more exciting for the company was that Penny was shortlisted for the Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright, something which everyone at Paines Plough is very happy about!

So what can you expect from our last instalment in the Roundabout trilogy? Some super new writing, singing, dancing, body bags, mops and so much more…Sheffield, you’re in for a treat!

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE at The Royal Court

We’re delighted to announce that LOVE, LOVE, LOVE will open in London next year in a new co-production with The Royal Court, and in association with The Drum Theatre, Plymouth.

Mike Bartlett’s award-winning play has already been seen in 18 towns and cities nationwide, and now comes to the capital – after picking up the gong for Best New Play in the 2011 Theatre Awards UK last week.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE will open at The Royal Court on 27 April 2012 and run until 2 June.

Young people, our age. We’re the moment. Henry’s just that bit too old he can’t understand.

1967. Kenneth and Sandra meet, and it’s a whole new world.

A fiery relationship is sparked in the haze of the 60s, and charred by today’s brutal realities. From passion to paranoia, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE takes on the baby boomer generation as it retires, and finds it full of trouble.

Our Artistic Directors James and George said today: “Following a hugely successful 20-week national tour, we are thrilled to be working with the Royal Court to produce Mike Bartlett’s outstanding play in London. Mike’s viciously funny and affectionately tender portrait of the lives and loves of a single family spans 40 years, and paints a vivid picture of our rapidly changing society. It’s a dazzling and important play, and the Royal Court is the perfect home for it.”

You’ve contacted us in your droves to ask if the play will be seen in London, so we’re delighted to oblige. We hope to see you at The Royal Court next year…

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE
By Mike Bartlett
Directed by James Grieve
Friday 27 April – Saturday 2 June 2012
Jerwood Theatre Downstairs
Royal Court Theatre Sloane Square SW1W 8AS
Monday-Saturday 7.30pm
Saturday Matinees 2.30pm (from 5 May)
Thursday Matinees 2.30pm (from 24 May)
There will be no performance on the May Day Bank Holiday
Press Night Thursday 3 May 7pm
Post-show Talk Thursday 17 May
Captioned performance Tuesday 22 May
Audio Described Performance Saturday 2 June
Age Guidance 14+
Tickets £28, £20, £12
Mondays all seats £10 (available in advance to Friends and Supporters and on the day of the performance from 9am online, 10am in person)
Concessions £5 off top two prices* (available in advance for all performances until
Saturday 5 May inclusive and all matinees. For all other performances, available on a standby basis on the day)
25s and under £8* (available on £20 and £12 tickets)
School and HE Groups of 8+ 50% off top two prices (available Tuesday-Friday)
Groups of 6+ £5 off top price (available Tuesday-Friday)
Access £12 (plus a companion at the same rate)
*ID required. All discounts are subject to availability

Tickets for LOVE, LOVE, LOVE go on sale at 9am on Monday 14 November 2011. You can book tickets in person at the Royal Court Box Office, by calling 020 7565 5000 or online here.

A Play, a Cake and a Pint?

Cake is becoming a bit of a theme around here – as he told us yesterday, Sean is adjusting well to life as the PP intern by embracing the abundance of cakes in the office. And two of this year’s three Play, Pie and Pint shows feature cake in a crucial role. Woe betide any diabetics who come to work for Paines Plough.

It seems like only yesterday I saw the first run through of DIG and started to get a sense of what a beautiful and affecting play it was going to be. In fact, it was just over four weeks ago. And one month, 4 cities, and 24 cakes later, it has drawn to a close.

L-R: Stewart Porter, Louise Ludgate and Simon Macallum - the brilliant cast of DIG.

Here’s what the critics from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester and Coventry had to say…

‘This tightly written play is gripping, funny and extremely moving… A thoroughly affecting piece of theatre.’ Edinburgh Guide ★★★★

‘Tight and emotionally-chargedAs it builds to its powerful conclusion, Dig deftly uncovers the emotions which lie hidden beneath the surface of our everyday lives; and the hope which can often be found growing there.’ Edinburgh Spotlight ★★★★

‘It’s a simple idea, but over the resulting 45 minutes a surprisingly large emotional terrain is covered by George Perrin’s production…Douglas’ dialogue is sharply written and well observed…Louise Ludgate’s climatic monologue, a desperate plea to save her marriage, is impossibly affecting’ Exeunt Magazine ★★★★

‘Incredibly gripping…intelligent, compelling and humorous…The script builds to a tender and emotional conclusion, portrayed brilliantly by a talented trio of actors. Overall, Dig was a fantastic experience and it would have been excellent even if I hadn’t had a hot pie and a glass of red wine to keep me company.’ The Student ★★★★

‘Dig is the sort of brash, confident and hard-hitting piece of theatre which makes you sit up. A perfectly crafted short.’ Annals of Edinburgh Stage ★★★★

‘Very moving, very incisive…For a 45 minute long play “Dig” packs a lot of punch.’ Lothian Life ★★★★

‘A small masterpiece…this rich and shattering slice of lunchtime drama’  The Scotsman ★★★★

‘From hilarity to chilling suspense, Katie Douglas’s script controls the atmosphere in the room precisely…This exploration of the emotional effects of an economic climate where job security is a fantasy asks tough questions, and asks them very well.’ Edinburgh Evening News ★★★★

‘The play, the pie and the pint are all thoroughly enjoyable, but best by far is the play – wonderful, deep and satisfying.’ Warwick Courier

If you caught DIG, we’d love to know what you thought of it.

And if you didn’t – there’s still time to grab your pie and pint and settle down in front of either YOU CANNOT GO FORWARD FROM WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW, at the Belgrade Theatre until Friday, or JUICY FRUITS – playing at the Manchester Royal Exchange this week and heading to Coventry next week.

Tea, Cake, Patrick Stewart and Angie

This is my fourth week here at 43 Aldwych, the most exciting of addresses. We’re a little door between the Aldwych Theatre where Marc Warren is currently treading the boards in Cool Hand Luke ( and soon to be the home of Vincent and Flavia off of Strictly Come Dancing) and The HUGE Waldorf Hotel. We may just have a little door, but up on the fourth floor there is a hive of activity. Paines Plough’s office is bright, and cheery; the kettle is boiled every fifteen minutes (tea drinkers extraordinaire), and there is always coffee in the pot. There is a constant buzz of writers working in the writers’ room, companies rehearsing in the PP rehearsal room, but between 10am and 6pm the Production Office is the place to be.

In this little room, with one big round window and five desks packed in tight, all of Paines Plough’s production work happens. There is always a flurry of typing, printing and phonecalls, bundles of laughter, copious amounts of tea, and if you catch us on a good day (or a bad day depending on how you look at it…) there is always plenty of cake. From oatcakes, to cupcakes, to 58p out of date, reduced chocolate indulgence cake, the production office is run off sugar. At the moment we put this down to the Winter months setting in, but I’m pretty sure, whatever the weather, if you ever need to sweet talk anything from the Production Office, cake is always welcome. As are those foam banana and shrimp sweets. They go down a treat too. Luckily for us, the office is on the top floor so there are plenty of stairs to clamber up, working off the high sugar intake…

Since I’ve started I’ve done all sorts of things from logging feedback we’ve received from audience members who have seen our Play, Pie, Pint or Roundabout shows, to booking travel and accommodation for the team all over the country, to working with Tara and the publishers- faber & faber on proofing the playtext for our last production of 2011- The Sound of Heavy Rain. However, it was in my first 48 hours at Paines Plough where I witnessed the real glitz and glamour of working in theatre.

On my first day, after work we went to see Headlong Theatre’s Decade at St. Katherine’s Docks; on arriving I met Mike Bartlett who co-wrote the script for Decade, and also wrote Love, Love, Love for PP and 13 which opened at the National last week, then Rupert Goold, who directed Decade, and also directed Enron by Lucy Prebble and Earthquakes in London also written by Mike Bartlett wandered over and then, if that wasn’t excitement enough, in comes Patrick Stewart- a pretty impressive trio to be spending Tuesday evening in the company of. But the highlight of all this glamour came the following day when in the London drizzle I made my way up to Holborn to a remarkable little place- LaundaVista. The tea towels from the office needed to be washed, so I wend my way to a backstreet laundry, ran by the delightful Angie and despite the language barrier (I think she’s Spanish) we try and have a broken conversation about all things life, love and laundry.

I’m learning so much working here at 43 Aldwych, but whatever I take from Paines Plough over the next few months, I know that I will be grateful for meeting Angie; for the advice on soap powder to fabric softener ratio, the bewilderment as to why she and her family keep their car keys in one of the washing machines, what the best way is to iron a suit jacket and her views on the pros and cons of the flu jab. Patrick Stewart was brilliant, but I think meeting Angie is something pretty special.